Sarah & Todd’s 1930’s, travel-themed, wine box wedding

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The offbeat bride: Sarah, Public Admin Student, Speech Coach, and Tutor (and OBT member)

Her offbeat partner: Todd, business student and future pastor

Location & date of wedding: Southport Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN and Valle Vista, Greenwood, IN — July 10, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: At first, our wedding raised a few eyebrows with our conservative friends and family. But most people ended up loving the religious non-traditional ceremony. We only incorporated what we felt was important which meant changing some traditional things. 45842_710963895902_41117178_39726441_2881089_n

We walked down the aisle together as equals. There was no giving away. We had everyone affirm their support in our decision. We tried to keep a modern-vintage theme with pillboxes and fedoras. The dresses were short, so the girls wore black leggings. Yes, leggings at a wedding.

Travel was another element of the wedding. Our friends live coast-to-coast: Washington, New Jersey, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and more. We handmade travel themed invites. Then after signing a compass book, guests marked where they came from and where they wanted to travel on a poster-sized world map. We also had a kit car made by friends which added to the vintage travel theme.

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Tell us about your ceremony: Our piano player played “Til Kingdom Come” by Coldplay and “Close Your Eyes” by Christophe Beck. Buffy was my all-time favorite TV show, “Close Your Eyes” had to be included. We recessed out to “Lucky” by Jason Mraz. Each song held special meaning to us. The music captured our joy and our past. 33492_710965722242_41117178_39726499_7755802_n

Each mom read a passage. His mother took a classic, 1 Corinthians 13. My mom read Colossians 3:12-17, which we felt held an important lesson for relationships: forgive, be humble, and give thanks.

One of my favorite parts of the ceremony, was the wine. Instead of a unity candle, we did a wine lock box ceremony. We sealed love letters and a bottle of wine into a box. Our officiant was thrilled to use the “making of wine” as a metaphor for marriage. I LOVED getting to hammer nails in the middle of the ceremony.

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Hammering nails into the ‘unity’ wine box.

The ring blessing was also super important to us. The rings were passed around in suitcase boxes I made myself. The ushers passed them around as the ceremony went on. Each person said a prayer or blessing over the ring. By the time the rings reached us, they had been blessed by every person in the room. We will carry those blessings with us, for the rest of our lives.

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Guestbook map

My favorite moment: The most meaningful part actually occurred before the ceremony. Ten minutes before the ceremony, Todd, Greg (our pastor) and I stole away to a small room near the chapel for a small, personal communion. Our faith is central to who we are and having those ten minutes to quietly prayer and celebrate communion was especially important to us. The rest of the day was so fast paced, but communion let us relax right before we said “I do.” 40397_710963277142_41117178_39726403_1043234_n

Also, we have a woman in our family with Down Syndrome. Although technically of no blood relation, we call her my aunt. I was so happy to be able to include her even in the smallest way. At the rehearsal she became overwhelmed with emotion and started crying. She is so tender hearted. We haven’t seen each other since I went off to college. She walked down the aisle in the processional with one of my good friends. It made me happy to include her, and it made her day.

Our biggest challenge: Finding a balance between what we wanted and what we could afford. We paid for the wedding ourselves, and that’s tough for anyone let alone two college students. There were so many details I wanted to add, but couldn’t afford. Luckily, his parents chipped in with flowers, but it still ended up costing us nearly $8,000 including the honeymoon. And while that’s far lower than the “average” cost.
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We made the most of our cash in several ways. First, we found a reception site that didn’t charge a room rental fee. They only charged for catering per person which was reasonable (about $20/person). That saved us thousands. Second, we shopped sales EARLY. We splurged in areas we thought important (like the wine box) and Craigslisted the rest. Third, we had an early wedding. The ceremony took place at Eleven A.M. and the reception hall was booked till Five. The earlier time period gave us a lower rate per person.
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My funniest moment: I couldn’t get the ring on! He broke his ring finger playing football in highschool PE and his knuckle is a lot knobbier on that finger. When it came time to put on his ring, it got stuck. All the guests including myself ended up laughing so hard. We eventually got it on, but it took work. It certainly lifted the mood.

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Struggling to get the ring on.

Shortly after being announced as Mr. and Mrs. Todd and Sarah Rainey, Todd celebratorily flung his fedora into the guests on a whim.

My advice for offbeat brides: We planned our wedding in a year and a half with school, forensics tournaments, tutoring, and coaching in between. It was challenging. We settled on a travel theme early on. That was SO helpful and made planning much easier. We both wanted to travel to Japan for our honeymoon, but paying for the wedding ourselves left us with a tight budget. So we channeled our desire to travel (to Japan and elsewhere) into our wedding. So pick a theme and avoid changing it if possible unless you have the time to replan!

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‘Passports’ or wedding programs!

Also, my advice to offbeat-lite brides in particular… we aren’t known as an offbeat couple, so people didn’t expect an offbeat wedding. Incorporating even a few offbeat changes in a traditional ceremony required a lot of explaining for the family to understand. If you’re doing something different, be sure to give guests a heads up. (We had our officiant explain the ring warming and the wine box in the ceremony.)

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The most important thing I learned was to share with my husband. We both shared equally in wedding planning activities, and we learned that rigid divisions of labor weren’t going to work out. The flexibility and openness that we now have, came from honest discussions with each other about family expectations and personal goals.

Care to share any vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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